in

CBRNE Threats in Southeast Asia, Syrian Officials Sanctioned Over CW Crimes

Topics in this issue of CBRNE Particles include FDA medical countermeasure activities, CBRNe threat in Southeast Asia, sanctions on Syrian officials.

In This Article

POLICY + POLITICS

Working Toward Better Disaster Research

The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Infrastructure Management and Extreme Events Program is organizing these two workshops, the first of which will be held March 30–31, 2017, at NSF headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, as a way of furthering hazard and disaster research by focusing on six key areas: evaluating current research methods, forming and sustaining interdisciplinary research teams, clarifying opportunities and challenges, defining research outcomes, developing guidance for interdisciplinary teams and determining what lies ahead for research teams. Vital Record >>

Cutting Funding to the IAEA Is a Horrible Idea

Washington provides a significant percentage of the IAEA’s annual budget and, on top of that, additional resources known as voluntary contributions. This money ensures that the IAEA can handle its current responsibilities by having the tools, people, skills, and resources needed to do its job — which is, to put it bluntly, to help keep us and other countries safe and enable all to benefit from the peaceful benefits of nuclear technology. Carnegie Endowment >>

Why the Industry Should Fight to Save the Chemical Safety Board

Typically, this little-known agency operates in the shadows of major industry disasters, swooping in once the dust has settled to meticulously record and then analyze the sequence of events. Ultimately — sometimes after years of scrutiny — the CSB issues a report and offers recommendations for the industry to help make sure whatever went wrong never happens again. But this month, the agency was thrust into the public eye after President Donald Trump proposed a 2018 budget that completely cuts the CSB (along with 18 other agencies). Chem.info >>

AU to Keep Building on Progress to Curb WMD

From 2010 to 2015, the number of implementation measures in Africa identified by the 1540 Committee had risen by almost 61%. Seven African states have hosted a visit of the 1540 Committee (Burkina Faso, Republic of the Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger and Zambia), and six African states have formally elaborated a 1540 national action plan (Ghana, Lesotho, Malawi, Niger, Senegal and Togo), which is testimony to the progress made on the continent. ISSA Africa >>

FDA Offers 2016 Report on Medical Countermeasure Activities

As part of efforts to protect the US against chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) threats, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved seven new treatments and 21 new devices in FY 2016, according to a program update on medical countermeasure (MCM) activities. Regulatory Affairs Professional Society >>

US and Russia Should Never Have Stopped Cooperating to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism

Thanks to disputes over Ukraine, Syria, and elsewhere, the United States and Russia — the two countries that hold the vast majority of worldwide fissile material — have ceased nearly all cooperation that could thwart a nuclear terror attack. Such a scenario is not farfetched. There is documented evidence that al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups have pursued weapons-grade nuclear materials, and smugglers have been caught attempting to distribute them to the wrong hands. Defense One >>

Negotiations to Ban Nuclear Weapons Begin, But Australia Joins US Boycott

Negotiations on a treaty to outlaw nuclear weapons have begun in New York, but have been publicly condemned by the United States, which is leading a coalition of more than 40 countries – including Australia – boycotting the talks. The Guardian >>

COUNTERTERRORISM + CWMD

N. Korea Could Conduct “Massive Biological and Chemical Weapons Attacks” on ROK, Says RAND Scholar

“Up to the 1970s, North Korea was building lots of armored forces. But suddenly in the 1983-5 time frame, instead of building armored personnel carriers, they took the same vehicle and started mounting artillery guns on it. Those were to deliver chemical weapons I think. What they had concluded was that the U.S., and South Korea was racing ahead in conventional force modernization, but North Korea was not going to be able to keep up. They had to develop asymmetric capabilities, a different approach to what the U.S. and South Korea were doing, or they were going to be left behind.” NK News >>

CBRNe Threat in Southeast Asia Realistic, Says Counterterrorism Expert

Counterterrorism expert Andrin Raj said the CBRNe threat was being widely discussed among security experts, adding that Malaysian authorities must beef up preparedness to counter any such threat to the country, public and critical infrastructure. New Straits Times >>

How the Rise of Electronics Has Made Smuggling Bombs Easier

Last February, a Somali man boarded a Daallo Airlines flight in Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital. Twenty minutes after the flight took off, the unassuming laptop in his carry-on bag detonated, blowing a hole in the side of the plane. The bomber was killed, and two others were injured. But if the aircraft had reached cruising altitude, an expert told CNN, the bomb would have ignited the plane’s fuel tank and caused a second, potentially catastrophic blast. The Atlantic >>

CHEMICAL THREATS + SAFETY

How Chlorine Gas Became a Weapon in Syria’s Civil War

Chemical weapons have been a recurring footnote in the bloody narrative of Syria’s civil war, which has robbed hundreds of thousands of lives, and displaced roughly 11 million more. But amid this troubling saga of chemical weapons use in Syria, it has been sarin nerve gas, and to a lesser extent mustard gas, that have punctuated this ongoing storyline. Following the 1,300 tonnes of sarin nerve gas and its precursors being removed from Syria, chemical attacks persist there nearly four years later, but most notably in the form of chlorine, which has emerged as the most heavily used chemical weapon in the war. Al Jazeera >>

EU Imposes Sanctions Against 4 High-Ranking Syrian Officials for Using Chemical Weapons

The European Council has added four high-ranking Syrian military officials to the list of those targeted by EU restrictive measures against the Syrian government. The EU added these 4 persons for their role in the use of chemical weapons against the civilian population. The decision, officially made by the EU on 20 March 2017, brings to 239 persons the total number of persons targeted by a travel ban and an assets freeze for being responsible for the violent repression against the civilian population in Syria, benefiting from or supporting the regime, and/or being associated with such persons. ARA News >>

Suspected Mosul Mustard Gas Victims Recovering; Foul Smells Remain

“Some soldiers said the house has to be destroyed,” said Dhia Deen, a taxi driver on the street next to the site of the alleged worst chemical attack in Mosul. “Even our cows are getting sick.” The home that was bombed in early March does not have to be pointed out. Weeks after the incident, the smell is still rancid and neighbors complain of watering eyes and skin problems. Voice of America >>

As US Loses Patience, North Korea Holds a Chemical Card

Unlike nuclear reactors and missile launching grounds which can be easily detected by satellites, North Korea’s chemical and biological weapons facilities are known to be hidden underground. And Pyongyang’s use of the lethal VX nerve agent in a transnational assassination has sent a chilling warning of its apparent willingness to use biological and chemical weapons in a conflict scenario. Asia Times >>

HAZMAT INCIDENTS

Montana: Hazmat Scare Sends Two Yellowstone County Deputies to the Hospital

A potential home break-in turned into a callout for the Billings police bomb squad and Billings Fire hazmat teams after it sent two Yellowstone County deputies to the hospital Thursday night. “Once they got inside there was some kind of chemical release or something that happened inside. They had difficulty breathing,” Michaelis said. “They could feel it right away when they got inside that the air wasn’t correct.” KTVQ Billings >>

Suspicious Package with Powdery Substance Found at Toronto Police Headquarters

Police have closed off a section of a downtown Toronto street after a suspicious package containing a powdery substance inside was discovered at Toronto police headquarters. Toronto police Const. Victor Kwong said the item was found by staff in the mail room and no injuries were reported. Police said the hazardous materials team has been brought in to investigate the exact nature of the substance. Global News >>

Toronto Police Say Markham Home Searched on Saturday is Synthetic Drug Lab

Toronto police say a home in Markham from which officers removed hazardous materials Saturday is a synthetic drug lab. On Saturday afternoon, police wearing hazmat suits were seen removing glass beakers and five-gallon plastic containers from the home. Neighbours said it was occupied by three men and that construction equipment could often be seen on the driveway. CBC News >>

Hazmat Traveling by Train Through Suburbs Raises Concerns

Nine railcars carrying liquid sulfur toppled over March 15 in Lake Forest, and not a drop spilled, authorities say. Is that a wake-up call given that a hazardous chemical could have leaked close to homes, businesses and a nature preserve? Or proof that the rail system transporting millions of tons of hazmat across the U.S. every day is safe? Daily Herald >>

RADIOLOGICAL + NUCLEAR

Trump Budget: An Extra Billion Dollars for Nuclear Weapons

President Donald Trump has proposed to boost federal spending on the production of nuclear weapons by more than $1 billion in 2018 while slashing or eliminating spending on many federal programs related to diplomacy, foreign aid, and social needs, in a budget proposal that reflects the first tangible expression of his defense priorities. Center for Public Integrity >>

Government Proposes Reusing Decontaminated Fukushima Soil as Landfill

The Environment Ministry on Monday proposed reusing decontaminated soil from disaster-hit Fukushima Prefecture as landfill for parks and green areas. At a meeting of an advisory panel, the ministry also called for launching a new organization to map out plans on how to gain public understanding about reusing decontaminated soil, ministry officials said. The Japan Times >>

The Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Dump, a Political Hot Potato, is Back

The White House’s budget blueprint released Thursday seeks to revive spending for a hotly contested facility in Nevada that would store the nation’s nuclear waste. Most Nevadans oppose the plan, which would consolidate the U.S. nuclear waste load currently spread across the country in their state. The project has essentially been on ice since 2010, when then-President Barack Obama suspended licensing for the Yucca Mountain facility. CNBC >>

RESPONDER HEALTH + SAFETY

The Makers of the Army’s Gas Mask Are Looking Into Beard-Friendly Options

If you ask a soldier why beards are banned, they’ll tell you it’s because you can’t seal your gas mask with one. But that could change.  The Army is in the midst of studying the effects of facial hair on protective gear, while, at the same time, the manufacturer of the military’s most high-level gas masks is considering new options. Army Times >>

The 999 Call-Out That Changed a Paramedic’s Life

A national campaign, led by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, has released a film featuring celebrities talking about how they faced their own mental health problems. BBC News >>

‘Unacceptable’ Working Conditions Ignored at Fort Bragg Fire Station, Firefighters Say

Firefighters at Fort Bragg’s Fire Station No. 7 have been complaining for years that their building is deplorable — even sickening. The roof leaks. Exhaust from the engine trucks wafts into sleeping quarters. Carpets are soaked with water when it rains. Holes in walls are covered by steel sheets. The problems have been documented by building inspectors, federal occupational safety regulators and Fort Bragg leaders since at least 2014, yet the building continues to fall into disrepair. Stars & Stripes >>

Increasing Suicide Rates Among First Responders Spark Concern

Paramedic George Redner III started to grow angry and distant after he failed to revive a 2-year-old who had drowned. But not even his parents saw how deeply his work affected him until he took his life seven years later. Trib Live >>

INDUSTRY + TECH

Emergent Biosolutions Inc. Files An 8-K Entry Into Material Definitive Agreement

On March 16, 2017, Emergent Biodefense Operations Lansing LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Emergent BioSolutions Inc., entered into a contract with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), a division within the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response, valued at $100 million for the delivery of BioThrax (Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed) to the Strategic National Stockpile over a two-year period of performance. Market Exclusive >>

908 Devices Secures $20 Million in a Growth Equity Funding Round

908 Devices, a provider of analytical devices for chemical and biomolecule analysis, on Wednesday announced it has closed $20 million in a growth equity funding round. 908 Devices plans to use this infusion of capital to accelerate penetration into already established markets for its purpose-built devices that range from rugged, handheld chemical detection tools to fast separation devices. The company said it will also be focused on product development. PharmPro >>

PositiveID’s E-N-G Mobile Systems’ 2017 Bookings Through Feb Up 200% from Prior Quarter

Bookings represent signed purchase orders or contracts received from customers. The majority of the bookings are for ENG’s customized mobile lab vehicles. ENG’s MobiLab line is field-proven and available in a wide range of platforms including vans, truck-based systems and trailers up to 53 feet. Applications range from general purpose and chemistry labs to BSL3-ready and full CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives) threat detection and analysis. Nasdaq >>

SPECIAL INTEREST

China Rebrands Cold War Nuclear Bunker as Tourist Attraction

It was a top secret Chinese nuclear facility with a deadly Cold War mission – to make plutonium for an atomic bomb – but these days its doors are wide open as a tourist attraction. The cavernous “816 Nuclear Military Engineering” installation was burrowed into lush green mountains in southwest China over a 17-year span by 60,000 soldiers toiling day and night in dangerous conditions. South China Morning Post >>

Mutual Funds Have Exposure to Controversial Weapons

More than 6,500 funds sold to retail investors around the world have high exposure to controversial weapons such as cluster munitions, according to new research that has cast doubt over asset managers’ efforts to invest responsibly. The research examined the exposure of global mutual funds to chemical and biological weapons, cluster munitions, white phosphorus, blinding laser weapons, nuclear weapons, depleted uranium, and weapons with so-called non-detectable fragments such as shrapnel. Financial Times >>

Ernest J. Moniz Named New CEO of NTI

Former U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest J. Moniz has been named the new chief executive officer and co-chairman of the Board of Directors of the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) effective June 1, 2017.  The announcement was made Mar 23 by current CEO and Co-Chairman Sam Nunn and Co-Chairman Ted Turner, both of whom will remain as co-chairmen of the Board alongside Moniz. NTI >>

From Our Partners

Live Chemical Agent Permeation Testing Event at Battelle

DHS Opens New Transportation Security Explosives Detection Lab